An I-Pod Inspired Writing Lesson from WritingFix
Focus Trait: IDEA DEVELOPMENT Support Trait: VOICE

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Teacher's Guide:
A Persuasive Essay Assignment
Where is the Love?

exploring real voice and real ideas in a persuasive argument

This lesson was created by Nevada teacher Abby Olde during the NNWP's iPods Across the Curriculum Workshop. You can access all of Abby's online lessons at her portfolio.

This writing prompt inspired by

"Where Is The Love?" sung by the Black Eyed Peas

Click here to do a Google search for the lyrics.

A note for teacher users: These lessons are posted so that you may borrow ideas from them, but our intention in providing this resource is not to give teachers a word-for-word script to follow. Please, use this lesson's big ideas but adapt everything else. And adapt it recklessly; that's how you become an authentic writing teacher.

Teacher Instructions & Lesson Resources:

Pre-step…before sharing the songNote from Abby, this lesson's author: "I usually do this lesson following our Anne Frank/Holocaust Unit where students have already been studying a significant example of injustice in our world’s history. Students already feel fired up and outraged that such events could have occurred. Moving into an Injustice/Persuasive Writing Unit is a natural progression. This assignment will also require students to research a chosen topic so that they can find supporting details and facts to create a piece of writing that will persuade acall for action. I usually reserve some library or computer lab time for research."


Step one…sharing the song:  Give students the following journal question:

According to Webster, the word “injustice” means: violation of right or rights of another. What does the word injustice mean in your own words? Can you think of any examples of injustice in our society? Have your rights ever been violated? Do you know anyone whose rights have been violated? Explain.

I have an “Accountable Talk” discussion about this journal topic with my students after they've written to it.

I then pass out the Where is the Love lyrics and this Four Square Notes organizer (I make this a double-sided handout). Students read the lyrics silently while the song is played from the iPod. After the song is played once, I play it again while students complete the Four Square Notes organizer.

After their four square notes are completed, students make a list underneath their notes of the things in this world that make them angry. We then make a class list on the board or overhead and students can add ideas from their classmates to their own list. I tell students that they will be choosing one injustice to focus on for their persuasive topic. I ask them to circle, highlight or put a star next to that topic on their handout.


Step two…introducing models of writing:  In small groups, have your students read and respond to any or all of the student models that come with this lesson.  The groups will certainly talk about the idea development, since it's the focus of the lesson, but you might prompt your students to talk about each model's voice as well.

WritingFix Safely Publishes Students from Around the World! In 2008, we first began accepting students samples from teachers anywhere who use this lesson. Hundreds of new published students now go up at our site annually!

We're currently looking for student samples for other grade levels for this lesson!  Help us obtain some from your students, and we'll send you a free resource for your classroom!  Visit this lesson's student samples page for details.

Step three…thinking, talking, and pre-writing:  Now that students have chosen a topic and seen some models of writing, they need to begin thinking about what makes them angry about the injustice that they have chosen. Their anger will help prepare the passion that will hopefully come out in their essay.

I introduce students to persuasive writing by first playing an audio version of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech (of course!). I ask students what makes this speech so powerful? (repetition, specific and vivid details, metaphor, etc.) What is the speaker asking of the audience?

I ask students to copy down the definition of persuasive writing from the overhead in their notebooks and I go over “How to Write a Persuasive Essay.” I then give them an injustice pre-writing handout. I explain to them that Martin Luther King was angry about civil rights and racial inequality. Students should be inspired to be thinking about what makes them angry about their topic.

Before you go to the library or send kids out to research their topics, they need to think about what kinds of information they would need to look for to use as evidence or tools to persuade people to fight the injustice they will be writing about. That’s what the first side of this pre-writing handout is all about.

Students are now ready to begin their research for their topic. The research/prewriting graphic organizer is on the backside of the brainstorm. This will help them stay focused on Idea Development, and I give them this before we head to the library. I have students create a thesis statement for their topic. As we have practiced orally during “Accountable Talk,” their thesis statement can first be written as an “I believe because…” statement. (This can be reworked later). Students should also fill in three arguments that they have that support their thesis statement. These arguments will guide their research. The can take notes on facts/details/etc. that they come across during their research in the “supporting details” box.

Students should have been able to get some supporting details to support their argument against their chosen injustice topic. This is a good time to pause, and let students read and listen to the lyrics of Ben Harper’s Excuse Me Mr. I use this song during this unit because it helps students recognize different ways that anger can turn into passion for a topic. I have students complete this graphic organizer on the side of the lyrics to this song.

Students are now ready to begin drafting their persuasive essay. Because my students are 8th graders, I have them conform to a pretty scripted graphic organizer for a 5 paragraph essay. This can be changed or reworked to fit your classroom or focus. I give students the rough draft graphic organizer and make this a double sided copy. If students need more room to write, they can use their own paper.

Share Original Graphic Organizers (for Pre-Writing)
from Your Teaching Toolbox.

We share graphic organizers with our peers, we find them in books, and we think we should also be able to find tried-and-true ones online at WritingFix. This year, if you create an original graphic organizer (or adapt one of ours) when you teach this page's lesson, and post it, we might just end up publishing it directly here at WritingFix, and we will post it here, giving you full credit.

  • Original graphic organizers for specific lessons, like this one, can be submitted as an attachment a this link Look for the "Reply to this Box" beneath the post. To be able to post, you will need to be a member of our free Writing Lesson of the Month Network.

Step four (revising with specific trait language):   When I teach this lesson, I have already worked with my students on how to write an attention-grabbing introduction, which is an important element of persuasive writing. I ask students to try one strategy, and then during our peer editing/revising workshop, students will try at least one other strategy and decide which introduction they like better.

During our peer editing and revision workshop, I put their revision and editing tasks on the overhead. I pay special attention to the “replace” step, so they can try replacing their lead-in with one of the other strategies we learned about. I also pay special attention to the call for action in the concluding paragraph.

To further promote response and revision to rough draft writing, you might attach WritingFix's Revision and Response Post-it® Note-sized templates to your students' drafts.  Make sure the students rank their use of the trait-specific skills on the Post-it® Note-sized templates, which means they'll only have one "1" and one "5."   Have them commit to ideas for revision based on their Post-It rankings.  For more ideas on WritingFix's Revision & Response Post-it® Note-sized templates, click here.

Share Original Revision Techniques or
Adaptations from Your Toolbox.

Inspired by Barry Lane's Reviser's Toolbox, the WritingFix website encourages its teacher users to adapt our lessons, especially the tools of revision we have posted here. If you create an original revision tool (or adapt one of ours) when you teach this page's lesson, and post it, we might just end up publishing it directly here at WritingFix, and we will post it here, giving you full credit.

  • Original revision ideas from teacher users of WritingFix can be submitted through copy/paste or as an attachment at this link. Look for the "Reply to this Box" beneath the post. To be able to post, you will need to be a member of our free Writing Lesson of the Month Network.

Step five (editing for conventions):  After students apply their revision ideas to their drafts and re-write neatly, require them to find an editor.   If you've established a "Community of Editors" among your students, have each student exchange his/her paper with multiple peers.  With yellow high-lighters in hand, each peer reads for and highlights suspected errors for just one item from the Editing Post-it.  The "Community of Editors" idea is just one of dozens and dozens of inspiring ideas that is talked about in detail in the Northern Nevada Writing Project's Going Deep with 6 Trait Language Workbook for Teachers.

Step six (publishing for the portfolio):   The goal of most lessons posted at WritingFix is that students end up with a piece of writing they like, and that their writing was taken through all steps of the writing process. After revising, invite your students to come back to this piece once more during an upcoming writer's workshop block.  The writing started with this lesson might become even more polished for final placement in the portfolio, or the big ideas being written about here might transform into a completely different piece of writing. Most likely, your students will enjoy creating an illustration for this writing as they ready to place final drafts in their portfolios.

Interested in publishing student work on-line? You might earn a free classroom resource from the NNWP! We invite teachers to teach this lesson completely, then share up to three of their students' best revised and edited samples at our ning's Publish Student Writers group.

To submit student samples for this page's lesson, click here. You won't be able to post unless you are a verified member of this site's Writing Lesson of the Month ning.


Learn more about the Black Eyed Peas by clicking here.
Learn more about Ben Harper by clicking here.


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